Death Grips isn’t anything you’ve heard before. The trio hailing from Sacramento, California have snapped genres in half and blown a few speakers along the way. L.A. Reid signed the group in 2012 to Epic Records, who are excepted to release two albums before year end. TheSource.com caught up with Zach Hill, drummer and producer for the group who gave us the 411 on Death Grips.
How did Death Grips come about?
The beginning of the group started with me and Stefan who is our singer being neighbors. I was touring with a bunch of different bands. Stef and I would get together, smoke and talk about music. We had the same common interests as far as music, both of us just had open minds. We both enjoyed rap music, loud music and punk music.
In 2010 I got back from this tour and was like “dude let’s try and make something.” So thats how it started. Our third member Andy, he’s an engineer and a bit of a computer wizard. I had already been making music with him.
So initially we had no preconceived notions or sound for the group, we weren’t even trying to be a group. So we all are visual artists and once we got locked in and started making music we were like “f*ck this is some other shit.” We created a wall around it and started writing Exmilitary. The sound came together naturally, I mean we talk about ideas in which we are trying to convey but we’re more about just letting things happen when it comes time.
We saw ourselves more in the art and visual sense, we sort of came about it with these abstract angles. Over the course of the last year its become more of a traditional band set up. We always hope to be expanding, even a year from now we want to be different as appose to what we are trying to do at the present time.
So how do you go about maneuvering through all these genres?
Well I don’t perceive Rap and Punk to be much different in the sense of where they come from. There’s a struggle there, they both come off oppressed or an outsider type of genre. The feelings aren’t that much different, the presentation may make them different. On an emotional core they aren’t different at all.
What’s one word to describe Death Grips sound?
I guess I would have to go with energy. I know its a broad but thats what we seek as far as sound. I know for a fact the other two would say the same thing. We get inspired by visual things, we see and then make music from that.
Lets talk about signing to Epic Records and L.A. Reid.
They’re really refacing themselves over there and it’s exciting to be a part of that. We meet with L.A. Reid regularly and we’re very active. He’s the one that signed us following many meetings with other labels. We went into that building with no expectations but that mans energy is an undeniable thing. We could really sense his connection to what we were trying to do.
He alone out of all the people we met with, without naming names made it apparent he really wanted to f*ck with it and help it. When I say help it I mean like present us with the resources to help and maximize our vision. He helps us the most by actually granting us total freedom .
To give you a sense before it actually all went down, Stefan had graffitied the entire bathroom at the Sony offices. So we weren’t really expecting anything to come of it.
Where did the idea to release two projects in one year?
That was again on our part. Thats a testament to what I was saying. In this day and age to even get a major label to agree to do something like that is crazy but L.A. believes in it. From our standpoint we just have that much material. We believe we have two classic projects on our hands, we’re accelerating, thats just the speed we move at. We feel as if we’re futurist with the way music is timely released. Its something special to receive music as its created rather than waiting a traditional 5 or 6 month span.
Does it ever bother you that Death Grips is perceived as one person?
No not at all because here’s the thing with Death Grips, we really abolished the ego-factor. Any connection made to what we’re doing, we’re down with it. It’s not hard for me to see how it would be perceived that way.
Being different is the in thing but I can see you’re guys legit sense as an artist/group. Whats the biggest misconception of Death Grips?
I think the biggest misconception is in the sense of the music. Where our heads are at is much different than most Hip-Hop and rap artist heads are at. For example we are pro-homosexual, pro-feminist and progressive. We’re anti-closed mind, anti-conservative and anti-homophobe. We make aggressive-macho sounding music but we’re definitely progressive.
Another misconception is Stefan being a “crack head,” he actually went to Hampton University in Hampton. Virginia. He’s hyper-educated as we all are. These platforms like The Source are important to make sure the script is flipped on a lot of misconceived notions.
For whatever reason I had a vision John Lennon would be a big fan of Death Grips.
Oh man! Thank you very much. They’re (The Beatles) often a topic in the music that we make. The way they did their shit and how they went about making their music through stages of development. At the same time highly conceptual. We talk about The Beatles all the time, how we want to be The Beatles of Rap. I say that without arrogance, it is just something to aspire to.